Bonding is an important social interaction for the development of your baby.
When you touch, cuddle and interact with your baby, their brain releases hormones that assist in brain development for communication, memory, and language. Babies form strong bonds with their primary caretaker, especially their parents. This gives them a strong foundation to navigate the world as they develop socially, mentally, and emotionally.
A secure baby will have healthy self-awareness, enthusiasm to learn new things, confidence, and empathy for others. An insecure baby will have a negative self-image, difficulties in learning, and problems relating to others due to a weak attachment bond, as their basic need for security and affection was not met. The lack of bonding can result in lasting mental and emotional effects. This is why most mental health issues occurring in adults can be traced back to childhood trauma or difficult experiences early on.
Bonding happens when you and your baby develop a strong emotional connection. Your baby may also start showing signs of being interested in bonding with you. For instance, they might smile, make eye contact, laugh or make cooing noises to show interest in you. The best time to bond with your baby is when they want to sleep, play or feed. The best way to bond with your baby is to show love, affection, and care in your interactions with them. By doing this, your newborn will view you as a trustworthy safety net and respond in kind. Instinctively, they will view the world as a safe place and be more inclined to play and explore.
In case you are wondering how to bond ‘correctly’, let’s make it clear that there is no right way of building attachment. Bonding is about observing your baby and responding intuitively. Here are some suggestions to help strengthen your bond:
Recognizing your baby’s cues
Every baby is different, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to meeting a baby’s needs. The key is to recognize and respond to your baby’s own unique cues. Try to observe your baby and discover their likes and dislikes – does your baby like interacting with other members of the family? Does your baby enjoy constant motion, such as rocking or being walked back and forth? Or does your baby prefer a change of environment? Does music calm them down? Note the kind of sounds and facial expressions that your baby to get some clues about their needs. For example, your baby may cry intermittently if they feel discomfort but may wail loudly and make sucking motions if they are hungry.
Physical contact: Regularly touching and holding your baby makes them feel secure. They are sensitive to the slightest touch. Holding your baby against you, skin on skin is often very calming for babies.
Don’t Ignore Crying
By responding to the cries of your baby, you are letting them know that they can trust you and always depend on you.
Talk and Sing
By talking to your baby, you are helping them recognize the sound of your voice. Talking is also crucial for babies to learn the language as they learn how to speak. You may not know it, but babies are adept at picking up the rhythm and beats of music even at a young age. Your baby will probably like listening to songs, and calming songs can have a soothing effect on both you and your baby.
Making Eye Contact
Looking into your newborn’s eyes while you talk can help them learn the link between words and feelings, as they observe your facial expressions. Your body language and tone of voice are powerful tools to communicate with your baby.
Bonding with Daddy
The role of a father is equally important as the mother for creating a secure attachment bond. Fathers can get closer to their babies by handling more bottle feedings, changing diapers, talking, reading, playing peek-a-boo, mimicking the sounds your baby makes and much more. However, babies have under-developed nervous systems and can get tired easily, so watch out for signs that your baby is overstimulated and needs to rest.
That being said, bonding is not always easy for every parent. It is completely normal if you don’t feel an immediate connection with your baby. A bonding process could take weeks or months as you and your baby get familiar with each other. With babies who are born with special needs, health problems, or adopted babies who were separated from their primary caregivers at birth, it may prove to be more challenging to form a bond. Identifying these problems early on can make it easier for you and your baby to relax and focus on each other in the long run, either with the help of pediatricians or professionals trained in early childhood intervention.
Just remember, as a primary caregiver, you are the important person in your baby’s life. If you are facing difficulties in bonding with your newborn, don’t be afraid to seek help. Getting the professional help you need can make a big difference to the quality of your relationship for the both of you.